When people think of techno in New York, one party comes to mind that has stood firm in its place for inviting sounds that are intimate, intangible and intriguing; The Bunker. Beginning modestly at subTonic back in 2003, the night became a hub for diving into the more experimental and evocative pockets of techno and beyond.
Back in those days, the flyer for the events would describe The Bunker as “an ongoing night of musical exploration” and year after year, venue after venue, that description continues to ring true. Between highlighting residents like Derek Plaslaiko, Mike Servito and founder Bryan Kasenic – the party continued to branch out and includes new voices to American audiences; sounds from the likes of Ostgut Ton regulars Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann and Shed to artists that delivered more complex genre variants AtomTM, Ben UFO, Monolake and Mount Kimbie. The focus on delivering something consistently unique within the auspices of a club night is something that they have done masterfully over the last decade-and- a-half.
It’s been over eight years since I went to my first Bunker event at Public Assembly in Brooklyn and I remember it better than most years. The sense of camaraderie, care and coordination were all present; I remember vividly thinking “this is how club nights should be – low-stress with some proper low-end.” Brimming with a quiet self-assuredness and a crowd that was cognizant and warm to each other, it was an experience that shaped how I would come to judge other parties in its stead.
As the years have gone by, not a lot has changed – except the cast of characters: Servito is touring like a madman, Plaslaiko peppers himself with masterful sets whenever he’s in town – while talents such as Antenes, Gunnar Haslam, Justin Cudmore and Patrick Russell have stepped up in recent years delivering immeasurable experiences to people who searching for the cracks between genres and frequencies yet to be introduced to them. With this much history in the books and on the dancefloor, we asked founder and resident Bryan Kasenic to provide us with some tracks that have made an impact to The Bunker’s existence as both club night and label.
Polygon Window – Untitled [Warp Records] (1993)
This track came out 10 years before we even started The Bunker, but it has been played frequently throughout our entire 15 years. Such a classic. Of course many Aphex Twin tracks have been in the mix at The Bunker over the years, but I think this one may be the most played. On March 3, 2006, the first time we booked Carlos Souffront, he played an all vinyl set of only Aphex Twin acid records and completely demolished subTonic.
Luciano & Mathew Jonson – Alpine Rocket [Perlon] (2003)
It’s really hard to narrow down Perlon to one record, there are literally dozens of cuts from their catalog that could be on this list. In the mid-2000s, Mathew Jonson made so many tracks that were played to death on The Bunker dancefloor. And while we’re on the subject, early to mid 2000s Cadenza was pure fire and got played a lot. So condensing many things into one pick here.
XOX Crew – 606 Outburst [Logistic Records] (2004)
In 2004, Atom™ made a fake compilation called “Acid Evolution 1988-2003” covering the history of acid house. He made up a different alias for each track. Atom™ is another one of those artists whose tracks under many guises have been played consistently at The Bunker, but this particular compilation is something we return to over and over. Atom™ has also released two amazing EPs on The Bunker New York label.
Samuel L Session – Sinister [Klap Klap] (2006)
We have quite a few tracks on here from the mid-2000s. This is the time when the party was still weekly, when Derek Plaslaiko came on board as resident and we were really defining (and in some ways re-defining) our sound. This was a time when minimal techno kind of ruled the dancefloors and some artists known for harder techno were taking influence from the sound and putting their own spin on it, which really resonated with us. The early Klap Klap records and Sandwell District are good examples of this sound and were huge on the subTonic dancefloor.
James Holden – Lump [Border Community] (2006)
Perhaps to folks who weren’t there, James Holden might seem like an odd choice for this list, but we played his tracks obsessively. The entire album “The Idiots are Winning” got a ton of play, and we were listening to it on and off the dancefloor. A completely unique album that holds up!
Roman Flügel – Mutter [Klang Elektronik] (2006)
Roman Flügel is another artist who could probably have 5 tracks on this list, but we’ll just pick one. This one got played a ton at The Bunker and especially at our afterparties. Absolutely brilliant production for exploring deep space zones that sounds even better on a good soundsystem.
T++ – Space Pong [Erosion] (2006)
An absolute monster of a track. No-one else sounds quite like T++, making him an artist who always appealed to us. One of those White Whale bookings that we never managed to pull off (but we’re still interested if you’re reading this, Thorsten!).
Perc and Fractal – Up [Kompakt Extra] (2007)
A beast of a track that builds and builds and finally explodes. Definitely a Plaslaiko classic that got rinsed out many times in the back room of Galapagos at peak time.
Wata Igarashi – Mood Of The Machines Part III [The Bunker New York] (2016)
Of all the records we put out on The Bunker New York, this is one of the most played at our parties and by our residents around the world. Part 3 is great, but really all 4 tracks from this EP get played out, everyone has their own fave. Wata really knocked it out of the park on this EP, and we’re really looking forward to his second release on The Bunker NY, coming this spring!
Gunnar Haslam – Scale No Flam [The Bunker New York] (2017)
This was an unreleased GH tune that he slowly leaked out to Servito, Cudmore, Plaslaiko, Kasenic. We all started playing it out so much that we knew it had to come out on The Bunker NY. so his Hot Mix brothers Mike Servito and Justin Cudmore made a slamming remix and we got it out as fast as we could. It demonstrates how the party influences the label and vice versa.
Abby Echiverri – Dento Ronso [The Bunker New York] (2018)
We could not be more thrilled with how the 26 track 15 Years of The Bunker compilation turned out. It was hard to pick a favorite here, but this track, which happens to be Abby Echiverri’s debut release, stands out thanks to her fresh sound. Very much looking forward to her full EP on The Bunker NY this summer!
15 Years Of The Bunker – Various Artist (26 track) compilation is out now, order a copy from The Bunker.
Photo by Tonje Thilesen
1. Polygon Window (Aphex Twin) – Untitled
2. Luciano & Mathew Jonson – Alpine Rocket
3. XOX Crew – 606 Outburst
4. Samuel L Session – Sinister
5. James Holden – Lump
6. Roman Flügel – Mutter
7. T++ – Space Pong
8. Perc And Fractal – Up (Perc Mix)
9. Wata Igarashi – Mood of the Machines Part III
10. Gunnar Haslam – Scale No Flam
11. Abby Echiverri – “Dento Ronso”
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